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Lake Shore Center of the Arts receives $34,000 grant

October 5, 2016
By Amanda Dedie - , Westfield Republican

The Lake Shore Center for the Arts was in for a big surprise on Sept. 23 when former Westfield resident and Lake Shore Players (the pre-Center for the Arts) participant presented the organization with a grant for $34,000.

On the weekend of Sept. 23 and 24, the Lake Shore Center for the Arts - a fine arts center based in Westfield that works to bring high-quality live arts in all the arts areas to the western New York and Lake Shore area - were putting on two sold-out performances of "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Before that, however, Phillips and her husband, Peter Brand, were called to the stage to speak by director Rick Mascaro, Westfield Town Supervisor Martha Bills and Westfield Village Trustee Jill Santi.

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Submitted Photo
Jacqueline Phillips, left, presents a check for $34,000 to Rick Mascaro before the first showing of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

"Although I now live in Cambridge, MA, in many ways Westfield is still my home, and I think you have taken very good care of my hometown," said Phillips. "Some of my fondest memories were as a result of participating in the Lake Shore Players, a former Westfield community theater group.

"So, when Rich Mascaro returned to Westfield with a vision and passion to create the LSCFTA and emphasize performing arts, I was happy to provide an initial equipment grant. Three years later, thrilled with what LSCFTA has accomplished, I am back and delighted to help by providing a capacity-building donation of $34,000. The intention of the donation is to fund a permanent location for LSCFTA and equip their theater," Phillips announced.

The "capacity-building grant," according to Phillips in a follow-up interview with the OBSERVER, is not to be used for operating costs, but to be put towards trying to find a permanent, indoor home for the LSCFTA.

"They've proved they can raise enough money for [operating costs] through the support of the community, which is I think is an important ingredient. They've proved that they have the support of local government, [with] Martha Bills being there and Jill Santi from the village, which is also an important part of the mix," said Phillips.

"But you just need to have a bump up to build the capacity to keep the level of the arts really high and in that part of the world, you can't just be doing outdoor theatre. They needed a home, and they need a little bit more sophisticated equipment to do the kind of theatre that this community deserves," Phillips explained.

When asked what inspired her to make this donation, especially having been away from the Westfield area for almost ten years, she noted her childhood years spent in Westfield and the arts background she had participating in the Lake Shore Players, which was a community arts program that had more focus on acting and not on the other components of theatre, like the LSCFTA.

"(Living in Westfield) was a great way to grow up. It was a wonderful town; I still think it's a wonderful town, maybe even a better town. Everyone took very good care of Westfield; it just gets better and better," Phillips reminisced fondly.

"But there was one area of opportunity that I really always felt kind of fondly about when I grew up - performing arts. It was a very rich arts environment, and my whole family ... was very active in what was then called the Lake Shore Players in terms of acting and in other roles, and those were some of my fondest memories about growing up in that wonderful town," Phillips said.

During a visit three years ago to Westfield, Phillips ran in to former classmate, Lake Shore Players member and performing fan Rick Mascaro, who shared his "vision, passion and tremendous energy" for the performing arts, said Phillips.

Phillips then gave Mascaro and LSCFTA a $2,000 grant to buy equipment.

"What they've been able to do in three short years - I'm just extremely impressed with what they've been able to do to gain the support of the community and to gain the support of folks who are willing to act, direct and sell tickets for the first time. What he's been able to galvanize here is thrilling," Phillips gushed.

The donation came from a family foundation Phillips is involved with that is in the middle of dissolution, according to Phillips, due to the lack of time members have to be able to dedicate themselves to it properly.

The foundation encourages the valuing of diversity through the arts, sports and professional development, and as a last hurrah, the foundation decided to give out three big gifts - this being one of them.

"We think it will make a big difference for them. There's still work to do; they're still going to need funds and support, but I think this was a big bump-up," said Phillips.

"It was an uproar when [community members] heard we were giving this money, and it was an uproar at the end of the performance," said Phillips. "So the community is really behind this and its just so exciting."

There's one more performance of "To Kill A Mockingbird" tonight at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Westfield at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All tickets are $10. Tickets can be ordered online at



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